The Long Road Home

When we start really thinking about life, it starts simple. Life is what it is. We act straightforwardly, without questioning ourselves constantly. Then we start to wonder what “it all means,” get all confused, and start believing that something is amiss. The dozens of points-of-view we read and hear about broaden our thinking to be sure, but they also instill in us a persistent doubt. What if we have been wrong? About most everything? A nervous sense of being out-of-sync pervades our lives.

What after that? I do not claim to have come full circle, but I have gotten that “around-the-corner” feeling, as if glass were about to shatter. When it does, what will the world look like?

In think that in the end, we return to that simplicity we started with, but without the limitations of a particular “perspective.” All the opinions and points-of-view we thought were so compelling seem like shadows. All the things that tug us off-center seem like benign amusements, their ability to strike fear or want in us gone.

If there is such a thing as enlightenment, I suspect it is a blinding flash of the obvious–everything we needed to know was right in front of us all along. We just could not see it through the veil of self-doubt we had wrapped around ourselves. When we thought something new, we shoved it aside, thinking someone else must have thought of it before. When we thought something different, we subtly talked ourselves out of it, fearing that others would not approve. When we thought something beautiful, or good, or just, we muted our joy, thinking it childish to feel that way.

When I work with people on starting a business, I find that the most fascinating part of it has little to do with business principles. Any reasonably intelligent person can start one. In fact, I find that intelligence has almost nothing to do with it. The sharpest people I have worked with are often the most blinded to their own abilities. They find dozens of convoluted reasons to busy themselves with trivialities, always convincing themselves that they are making progress. In truth, their trying is a clever way to keep from doing.

This used to frustrate and annoy me to no end. But then I realized that no one can pull aside the veil for another. I can help someone realize their dreams in many ways, but I cannot get them to trust that they have all the answers they really need right in front of them. I can give them information, but not insight.

You may not want to start a business. But I’ll bet there is something you want to do. What is it? Start a band? Write a book? Learn to paint? Immerse yourself in it. Dive in the middle of it and soak up all the different perspectives you can. Get confused. Muddy the waters. Just don’t stop there. Keep pushing forward and in the end come to realize that you had all you needed all along.

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